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KETTWIESEL as service vehicle

Guided by Stones

What is green, whirs quietly through the forest, and has a pressure washer in his bag? It’s Mr. Leuschen on his KETTWIESEL EVO STEPS. He follows his own way and leaves no stones unpainted: The retired history teacher, together with a dozen kindred spirits, cleans and restores the guide stones in the Heidelberg City Forest. It’s a volunteer job, but it can keep him busy six days a week when the weather is good. Stress? Just the opposite! For Mr. Leuschen, cleaning stones is like meditation.

 

On his chest patch is the Heidelberg coat of arms from 1889, and the back of his shirt reads “WALDWEGWEISERDIENST” (FOREST SIGNPOST SERVICE) in all caps. Mr. Leuschen likes the word: “Because of the three w’s.” But is it the alliteration he appreciates? Or the reference to the World Wide Web that is hidden in this very “analog” term? Less ambiguous, but just as charming, are his sentiments about the origin and history of the stones that he takes care of.

 

 
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My friend, the stone: Mr. Leuschen has a story to tell about every guide stone he’s ever worked on.

 

A living cultural monument

In the late 19th century, the Heidelberg City Forest was planned as a recreational forest where local residents and tourists could enjoy themselves and relax. The city council’s forest commission decided to create a uniform signpost system using engraved stones to help people find their way. Every stone provides hikers with several options: The paths, like the “Hutzelwaldweg,” are marked with a simple arrow, and the destinations, like “Wolfshöhle” or “Neckargemünd” with a feathered arrow.

For his work on the stones, Mr. Leuschen has to carry all sorts of supplies and equipment: paint, paint thinner, primer, a bag of assorted paintbrushes, things to sit or kneel on – and, last but not least, the above-­mentioned small pressure washer. In the early years, he made his rounds on a mountain bike, but riding a two-wheeler has since become a little too strenuous for the now 70-year-old.

 

 
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Equipment to go: everything Mr. Leuschen needs for cleaning and painting the stones can be transported in the large bag behind the seatback.

 

 

Then he read a newspaper article about an e-trike and knew right away: This KETTWIESEL would be his new service vehicle. “Now I can easily make it up the steepest hills on the Heidelberg paths with all my equipment, and I’m never exhausted when I reach the stones. Which is important, because it’s a job that needs a relaxed mind and a steady hand.” After cleaning the stones, he carefully touch­es up the letters and arrows using a special algae-resistant paint –  sometimes standing up, sometimes sitting down, and sometimes practically lying on the ground.

The highly focused work calms his mind, and Mr. Leuschen feels at peace in the here and now. And yet the compliments he gets from passers-by still make him feel “awfully good.”

 

 
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Clothing, flag, everything green. It almost looks as if Mr. Leuschen is trying to become one with his beloved forest.

 

With a steady hand alone at the stone

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“Joy” is the dominant emotion when Joachim Leuschen talks about his volunteer job in nature. “The guide stones are connected to another beautiful natural phenomenon here in this landscape,” he raves about the 240-million-year-old colored sandstone, and the listener can sense his deep connection to the region of Heidelberg.

“When I come home at night, I often think about how long these stones have already been doing their job.” And we think what an honor it is that Mr. Leuschen is doing his job on our KETTWIESEL!

 

All details about the KETTWIESEL EVO STEPS can be found here.

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